As one of the stars of Fox’s hit drama Empire, Gabourey Sidibe may seem to some like she has it all. But looks can be deceiving, and Sidibe makes abundantly clear in her new memoir that she was “a mess” and that maintaining her mental health is an ongoing process.
In the sharp and unapologetic memoir, This Is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare, Sidibe reveals that she has long struggled with bouts of bulimia and depression — the latter of which routinely devolved into suicidal thoughts.
“I found a doctor and told her everything that was wrong with me. I’d never run down the entire list before, but as I hear myself, I could sense that dealing with this on my own was definitely no longer an option. The doctor asked me if I wanted to kill myself. I said, ‘Meh, not yet. But when I do, I know how I’ll do it.’ I wasn’t afraid to die, and if there was a button I could’ve pushed to erase my existence from earth, I would have pushed it because it would have been easier and less messy than offing myself,” she writes.
Soon after, Sidibe was prescribed antidepressants and began going to therapy. At this point in the memoir, Sidibe a salient point about the importance of destigmatizing therapy, revealing that she couldn’t talk to her own mother about the thoughts she was having.
“When I first told her I was depressed, she laughed at me. Literally,” Sidibe writes. “Not because she’s a terrible person, but because she thought it was a joke.”
It wasn’t, though, and Sidibe struggled for years with bulimia, panic attacks and suicidal thoughts due to her depression. It was only when she found the strength to go against the stigma and seek out a doctor that she found herself on the path to recovery.
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Today, Sidibe is obviously doing well. She did, after all, just release a memoir and has the Empire role currently taking up residence on her résumé. Still, she admits that she continues to work on maintaining her mental health.
And in doing so, she has become an advocate, raising awareness and helping to destigmatize therapy and other resources so relevant to addressing mental health issues.